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Structured data markup is the middle child of SEO. What do I mean by that? Sometimes schema markup can seem forgotten about or ignored. But “rich snippets” are something that should never be overlooked! Keep reading to find out how structured data can improve your website’s visibility in organic search results.
In this session at SMX East 2016, Tony Edward of Elite SEM provides an overview of structured data markup, Google’s latest updates, and how to recover from a structured data penalty.
Have you seen enhanced results in the organic results? When I say “enhanced results” I am referring to a multitude of different features that can appear on your organic listing in the search results, but as an example, have you seen star ratings in the organic results? These are called rich snippets, which are generated through structured data implementation.
Structured data helps to make the content on your website more crawlable and helps search engines understand it better. By marking up the content on your website, you’re able to potentially get rich results for your content. While Google doesn’t guarantee rich results, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. The algorithm determines if the rich snippet will appear based on a number of factors, and the algorithm is always changing, so your chances of having a rich snippet show up is always changing as well.
You’re probably wondering what types of content you can use structured data to markup. According to Tony Edward, these are the most commonly used schema markup types:
- Local Business
If your website features any of this type of content on your website, use schema markup! According to studies, using schema markup has been shown to help with your organic clickthrough rate because you stand out amongst the other results on the page.
What’s New with Structured Data
Building off the success of rich snippets, Google wanted to create another search result format to enhance user experience. That’s how the idea of rich cards was formed, and this feature was released by Google earlier this year. Currently, rich cards are best used for recipes and movies, but these features will eventually be expanded upon.
Along with adding this new features, Google also created a Rich Card Report in Google Search Console so you can monitor how your rich snippets are preforming in the search engine results.
Image from Google Webmaster Central Blog
Structured Data Penalties
If you don’t implement structured data correctly, you can be penalized. These penalties can be partial, but they can also be site wide—so make sure you are using best practices and following guidelines when putting structured data live!
What are the ways you can get penalized?
According to Tony Edward, these are the top reasons why websites get penalized for structured data markup:
- Marking content that is invisible to users
- Marking up fake reviews and ratings
- Marking up ratings or reviews that are not specific to a product or a service
- (New) marking up Third Party Reviews on your website
- Using outdated Markup plugins (usually on WordPress)
How do you recover?
While these penalties won’t necessarily hurt your rankings, they are still something you will want to address quickly. Tips to recover from structured data penalties include:
- Review the Structured Data Report is GSC. Are there errors being flagged?
- Cross-reference your schema markup and errors with Google guidelines and Schema.org.
- Submit a reconsideration request to Google once the issues are fixed. Be sure to outline in detail what steps you took to remove the structured data that was causing the issue.
The Markup & Structured Data Speaker
Tony Edward, Senior SEO Manager, Elite SEM
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About The Author: Katie is an Organic Team Lead at Blue Corona. Outside of content creation and SEO, Katie enjoys stuffing her face with nachos, online shopping, and binge-watching Netflix.
View more blogs by Katie Birkbeck